Do you carry or have you given it serious thought? What, which, how, when? Although knives can be easy to carry, and legal (in some way) almost anywhere in the US, there are many characteristics and situations to consider. A knife can offer protection, sometimes deadly, but it could be the only thing that saves your life. I've heard too many stories of guns jamming or of a person being disarmed. Don't get us wrong, you should carry a legal firearm when possible, but even so you may end up in a state, county, city or venue/event that won't allow one. What then? Sometimes a good knife is the answer.
If you've dug around the web you know there are a lot of people and sites talking self defense and their effective use. Go with a trusted source and actually listen to what is said. Many points will be valid, but not all to you or your situation. You will no doubt experiment with your first purchase or two until you settle on what suits you best. Don't think of it as a waste of money, but a cheap education. Here are five things to keep in mind when choosing a self-defense knife.
What is Legal or Not to Carry?
When choosing a weapon to defend yourself you're essentially choosing to commit a potentially violent act yourself. You may need to justify your actions by providing evidence you were the victim and that your use of violence was justified to protect your life. A large part of that justification process involves establishing yourself as “the good guy” or victim in the eyes of the legal system. Carrying a knife that is illegal where it was used will not help your case. Don't carry if you aren't committed to its use.
Knife laws are confusing, and there is some gray area, which means a lot is left to the judgment of the responding officers. They also vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next. Nevertheless, it’s your responsibility to know all the laws that apply at the Federal, State AND local levels for where you live or carry. A great way to do this is with the app Legal Blade by KnifeRights.org. Once you understand the laws you can begin your selection process.
Cool over Practical
Today social media seems to be king, but a wise shopper knows that being popular doesn’t necessarily mean it's good or suitable for you. Please do not make a decision on the sole basis of a showman's video when it comes to your personal safety. Online videos and social media have a place and can help when you have narrowed your choice, but be smart and dare we say it, practical and skeptical.
Training and Practice
Like First Aid, riding a motorcycle or using firearms you only become and stay proficient with proper teaching, training and practice. Self defense with a weapon is a depreciating skill and needs refreshing to stay effective. The time it takes to think through a stressful situation may not be an option, your reflexes are your defense and only by training regularly can you develop the specialized ones needed for knife use. Watching Rambo II, a dozen times doesn't count and is hardly a blue print to base your skills on. Only through physical training can you know your limitations and have comfort in your surroundings. Martial arts and self defense classes are great places to start. Whichever style fits you will help guide you to the proper knife as well. Something I realized early on in training for a knife fight is that no matter the skill level you will get cut. Are you ready for that? Bringing out a weapon like a knife is a conscious choice to cut or be cut. So, don't ask for or go looking for trouble, you may not like or be prepared for what you see when you find it. If you do carry for self-defense, you’ll want to train often and you'll want training that closely matches your actual carry knife. That aspect alone can narrow your knife choices fast.
When to use it
Are you a ninja, Samurai or Jason Statham? Probably not, and unless you're in the military or a LEO you aren't really authorized to brandish or use your weapon anyway. Yep, you're an average Joe. And Dodgeball doesn't make you a knife master or give you permission. When you deploy your knife, it will most likely be in self defense, not for a grand romantic gesture or noble cause. There is a huge difference between lawfully defending yourself and killing or maiming another human. It’s very important to consider the conditions, so it is as clear to an observer or responder you were the victim and are not the bad guy. If your attacker ends up looking worse than you...well like Ricky Ricardo said, "Lucy, you have some 'spaining to do!"
So which knife? Focus on the knife and tactics that are appropriate for your lifestyle and potential situations you may find yourself. As for brandishing it? Honestly, we hope that's never needed in a life-threatening situation. But when there's no choice, here's our credo, "I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it."
Carry and Your Garb
The fact is, most people with carry or concealed permits don't actually do it. Not just firearms, but anything. Not even pepper spray. It's as if they feel the permit card alone will magically save the day. We wish that was so. The question is why? Well, first you need to be dedicated to it, it actually takes a long time to get used to carrying. The fact is whatever you carry adds weight to your daily routine and almost everything, at least at first, is pretty uncomfortable. It's a hassle until you get used to it. And humans don't like hassle.
Yes, knives are easier to carry than firearms, but a good knife will still have weight, size and come in a variety of shapes (some uncomfortable with pointed edges or pressure point control nubs). Second, your choice must fit your wardrobe and lifestyle for you to carry it regularly. Deep or shallow pocket carry, inside the waistband, belt, purse? Are you in jeans or shorts? Dress or skirt? You should be proficient at a variety of ways of carry so you have the ability to be armed consistently. Lastly, access. Can you get to your knife quickly and deploy the blade in a controlled, efficient manner from your point of carry without thinking about it? Practice.
We'd say the best way to go about choosing your knife for self defense is to arm yourself first with good info and training. Beyond that is good judgment, and common sense. One of the unsung benefits of training is the ability to judge a situation before it becomes violent which may be enough to avoid it all together.
You can check out our section of Self defense Weapons!